Men's choral group encourages teens to keep singing past high school, educates on future opportunities

Great Lakes Chorus Clinic
Posted at 7:02 AM, Oct 06, 2022

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A men's choral group is working in partnership with a national foundation to show young men the opportunities choir can provide for the rest of their lives, even after high school.

A clinic held on Wednesday is hoping to encourage the young men to stay in choral programs while also showing them singing can be part of lifelong education.

Sounds echoed throughout Grand Rapids Christian High School's Center for Arts and Worship.

Over 60 teens from different high schools coming together for the clinic hosted by a chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society, the Great Lakes Chorus and conducted by Michigan State University's Associate Director of Choral Programs Dr. Jonathan Reed.

"Generally, we find that the typical high school choirs are weighted pretty heavily towards female singers, and not as many men," said Michigan State University Professor Music Dr. Jonathan Reed. "What I've discovered over the years is, is that if you get kids involved in the process, that it's actually pretty easy to hook them on it and that they enjoy it, and they keep coming back for it," he said.

The students of different singing levels and abilities received the music around a month ago to learn notes and rhythm.

Together, they rehearsed for around five hours on Wednesday, putting all the sounds and notes together while learning the importance of vocal music.

"In the city of Muskegon, prior to World War Two, there were nine choruses, men's courses in Muskegon," said Great Lakes Chorus Member Jay Bylsma. "Now there's one, and the number of people who are singing, acapella singing or, or even choral singing is just diminished dramatically. If we don’t keep this up, then vocal music is going to slowly die out, and I think that would be a tragedy," he said.

The clinic ended with a performance of the music which included an opera singer, barbershop quartet, youth quartet and an all-inclusive performance.

Organizers said they hope this shows the young men their love of music can continue on past school too.

The program was sponsored by Tennessee-based nonprofit organization, Harmony Foundation International, which funds and promotes vocal music programs.